Nick Bromberg

Could Graham Rahal be making the jump to NASCAR?

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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Yet another former open-wheel driver could possibly be making the switch to NASCAR, though in Graham Rahal's case, it may be out of necessity more than desire.

Rahal, the son of former Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, is only 21, yet doesn't have a ride for the upcoming IndyCar season that starts March 14th in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Rahal drove for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing throughout his major open-wheel tenure, but was let go at the end of the season when his primary sponsor, McDonald's, left N/H/L.

(Where did McDonald's go, you ask? To Jamie McMurray for 10 races, starting this weekend at Las Vegas. Guesstimates put the price of a 10-race top-notch Cup sponsorship as roughly equivalent to a typical full-season IRL sponsorship deal.)

Rahal's got plenty of talent, as evidenced by winning the first IRL race in which he ever competed in 2008. That was actually the second race of the season, the street course in St. Petersburg, because Rahal had crashed in practice for the first race at Homestead. Since Newman/Haas/Lanigan was a transition team from CART to IndyCar during the merger, they were having to play catchup buying cars, and the team only had one speedway car at the time Rahal wrecked.

But since that win, Rahal seemingly struggled. However, much of that could be attributed to the catchup that N/H/L was still having to play to get competitive in a series that's dominated-especially on the ovals-by Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi.

If Rahal does make the switch, it's not going to be an easy transition. (Just ask Danica Patrick.) However, he's got youth on his side, and he's incredibly polished and mature enough to handle the struggles that would inevitably come along with moving over to stock cars. But unlike Danica, road racing is Rahal's forte, so short-track racing would be even more of a new experience for him.

Given Rahal's pedigree, I think he's got a great chance of succeeding, and maybe we'll see him in the Nationwide Series later this year.

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